Friday, January 30, 2015

Racine ii

At an age nicely extricated
from one's undergraduate days,
I wonder if anyone else finds
it as disarming as I do, to
discover in the old habit of
literature a semester in five
seconds, that eluded one then.
Of course, one never knows if
the learning curve isn't accel-
erated by much subsequent, af-
firming experience; I suppose
allowance has to be made, for
learning that way, too.

Stumbling along, then, with
one's book after dinner, to
indulge a few pages as one's
dog gnaws his antler and the
coffee acquires its cooling
bitterness, one act leads to
another, and such things as
this are possibly encountered.

  To Mountolive, more than the
  others, came a disenchanting
  sense of .. his powerlessness
  to act now save as an instru-
  ment (not as a factor), so
  strongly did he feel himself
  gripped by the gravitational
  field of politics. Private
  humours and impulses were a-
  like disinherited, counting
  for nothing ..

  Yet if he himself were power-
  less, how much more so the o-
  thers..? It was difficult to
  feel that he owed them even
  love any longer.

Of course, one can say not a
thing to distillations so ef-
ficiently decanted. One na-
turally wishes, for others, 
avoidance of those antipodes
of an always hypothetically
harsh existence; but, possib-
ly, the moment such benevo-
lence acquires that frame of
thought, one has entered that
very realm. I don't mind the
wonderful, belated book, and
I don't assess blame for what
kept me. I just mention it.

Lawrence Durrell
  Chapter XV
Faber & Faber, 1958©


  1. yes, and that passage in of itself leaves one Me-wanting more. What of the other books? there appears to be a quartet? I am adding it to my to READ... pgt

    1. PGT, the never-to-be organised sidebar index (Matter) gives no indication, but the Search Engines developed by a friend will allow you to find other references to the Alexandria Quartet, the poems, the diplomatic satires, and his travel writings. I try not to waste the debt to Lawrence Durrell, but of course one does. It's extremely heartening to think you could help out :)